Red Cross volunteer returns from Texas, heads to US Virgin Islands
In the last few weeks, Alaska’s American Red Cross chapter has sent 53 volunteers south to assist with relief efforts following hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and now, Maria.
“To see this happen again and again and again – I’ve never returned to a disaster area so quickly,” said Ken Everson.
KTVA met up with Everson last month in Austin, Texas while covering the relief effort. Sunday, he stopped by KTVA’s studios for an interview, ahead of a flight out Sunday night to discuss his time in Texas, and his thoughts on his next volunteer assignment.
“The reason I'm doing it is because I understand that they need people,” he explained, “I'm just one small cog in this big wheel, but you put 10,000 of us together and we can make the wheel turn. It just takes people.”
Everson was one of the first volunteers to deploy to Texas following Hurricane Harvey. While some volunteers were stationed inside Houston, he worked in a mega shelter a few hours away, helping evacuees get back on their feet. He returned to Alaska about a week ago, after the shelter closed down.
“The residents, the clients, they wanted to get back to their home," he said. "They were three or four hours from their home in Houston or Galveston, and they wanted to get back there so they could start taking care of business.”
Everson was home long enough to recharge and make sure his home is ready for winter. He now joins two other Alaskans who will head to Atlanta, meet up with a volunteer from Oregon and then arrive together. They plan to camp during this deployment, a change from his last.
He says after volunteering in Texas, he’s gained a better understanding of how much work, planning and manpower goes into a large-scale relief effort like the multiple ongoing operations the Red Cross is running now.
“You have a house fire in Anchorage and Red Cross is there before the fire department leaves -- well it doesn't work that way when you have thousands and thousands of people displaced,” Everson said.
To donate or to get Red Cross trained and certified, visit the American Red Cross website, or call at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
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